Product Review: Perricone Blue Plasma

Reviews, Skin Care


You have to hand it to Dr. Nicholas Perricone: In a land where skin care companies often fold after a few months, Dr. Perricone has launched a skin care empire that has lasted for decades. And after his “revolutionary” skin care, supplement, and diet plans all sold in the millions, he has now embarked on a new quest with Perricone Blue Plasma ($89.05, Designed to gently exfoliate the skin, Blue Plasma contains high concentrations of carnitine, salmon egg enzyme, and ptersostilbene to accelerate cell turnover. But does it work? Here’s what to know:

Carnitine: Friend or Foe?

The most concentrated ingredient in Blue Plasma is carnitine.  The good news is that some studies show carnitine has significant antioxidant activity, superior even to vitamin E (Life Sciences, 2006).

The unfortunate news is, we’re not sure if carnitine is good for the skin or not. The issue is that some studies show carnitine to be pro-oxidant. For instance, taking supplements of carnitine has been shown to induce in vivo lipid peroxidation (Metabolism, 2002). According to skin scientist Dr. Daniel Yarosh, Ph.D., “As [carnitine] turns up energy production it also increases free radicals, which damage the machinery that gives it more energy…Unfortunately, and contrary to the claims made by some of the dermatologists […], carnitine is not a very effective antioxidant, and it can’t stop the free radical process.”

So if I’m going to purchase Blue Plasma, it can’t be for the carnitine. Shame, because it’s in such high concentration. Moving on…

Salmon Egg Enzyme

Interestingly enough, salmon egg enzyme may be my favorite aspect of Blue Plasma. For years, Alaskan salmon fishermen have noted that their hands are softer and smoother after coming in from the docks (Alaskan Journal of Commerce, 2012). The reason? Salmon egg enzymes are able to digest dead skin cells. Biologically, salmon egg enzymes are genetically programmed to digest the protein structure of the tough eggshells before the fish is born. The digestion process is gentle, so as not to harm the living fish tissue, so it doesn’t hurt human skin as well.

If fish enzymes weird you out, take heed: there are other types of protein-digesting enzymes that don’t involve animals. For instance, papain, also known as papaya proteinase-1, is derived from pineapple.  It too is targeted against proteins, which helps to dissolve dead skin cells.  Papain is found in an increasing number of mainstream products, including AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel and Jan Marini Zyme Green Papaya Mask. As skin aesthetician and cosmetologist Zia Wesley-Howard says in The Complete Book of Enzyme Therapy,  “Enzymes gently yet thoroughly dissolve old skin cells without dissolving new ones or harming the skin.”


The verdict is still out on ptersostilbene and its effects in skin care.  Right now, ptersostilbene is considered to be a “hot” ingredient because it is chemically related to resveratrol, but is more easily transported into the cell and more resistant to degradation and elimination than resveratrol (Alternative Medicine Review, 2012). This has a number of potential applications, most relating to cardiovascular health.

Proven effects of ptersostilbene and resveratrol in skin care right now are limited to enhancing UVB protection. In a 2008 study published in Photochemistry and Photobiology, human skin cells treated with resveratrol prevented UVB-induced damage.  The mechanism?  Resveratrol inhibited the inflammatory NFkB pathway and decreased the skin cells’ production of hydrogen peroxide.

You may have heard of resveratrol and sirtuins. Unfortunately, many studies show that resveratrol doesn’t affect sirtuins, including a 2005 study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, a 2009 study in Chemical Biology and Drug Design, and a 2010 study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.  If resveratrol does activate sirtuins, this would in turn increase cell survival (Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Patients, 2009) and cell’s production of superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) (Free Radical Research, 2001). But this has yet to be definitively proven in skin care.

So in addition to Blue Plasma having exfoliating properties due to salmon egg enzymes, it may also enhance UVB protection with ptersostilbene. Always a good thing.

Bottom Line

Whether or not to use Blue Plasma depends on your skin type, as well as the other products you are using.

If you do not have oily or acne-prone skin, you will get exfoliating benefits from Blue Plasma. Your skin will look somewhat more glowing after just one use, which is saying something. However, if you are using other products that provide skin exfoliation and a glow, such as retinoids, alpha hydroxy acid, and beta hydroxy acid on a regular basis, you will get less results from Blue Plasma, because there aren’t as many dead skin cells to begin with.

If you do have oily or acne-prone skin, I would avoid Blue Plasma, because the high concentration of urea can be pro-inflammatory (Skin Pharmacology, 2002). I would stick to retinoids, alpha hydroxy acid, and beta hydroxy acid on a regular basis instead.

So if you know skin care and have a solid regime already, you won’t benefit much from the exfoliating action of Blue Plasma. Plus, the fishy smell leaves something to be desired. But, on the other hand, it shouldn’t really hurt your skin unless you have oily or acne-prone skin.


Water, Carnitine, Urea, Hydrolyzed Roe, Maltodextrin, Gluconalactone, Sodium Carboxymethyl Beta-Glucan, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Capryl Glycol, Phosphatidylcholine, Menthyl Lactate, Hyaluronic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Dimethyl MEA, Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract, Pterocarpus Marsupium Bark Extract, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Carrageenan/Chrondus Crispus, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Zinc Gluconate, Magnesium Aspartate, Sorbic Acid, Subtilisin, Copper Gluconate, Citric Acid, Blue 1 (CI 42090).

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  • Eileen

    I received a generous sample of this and couldn’t test it for more than a few days because the smell really bothered me. Since it was in a factory sealed container, not from a contaminated tester, I doubt the product had spoiled. Oh well, we all have different tolerance levels when it comes to scent. That aside, I did laugh about the tale of the salmon fisherman and their youthful hands. Salmon fisherman, Irish fisherman, Japanese fisherman, fishy fisherman 😉 that tale has been going around for ages! Bottom line: Eating fish isn’t the only way to get its benefits 🙂

    As always, Nicki, an excellent product reivew and your summation is very realistic. I use .05 retinoic acid on my face and so the exfoilation this product provides on my skin is nil. Also, I really appreciate all the research/study links. Even though this product is not for me, I love keeping informed about what various ingredients actually do for the skin.

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